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My preservice art ed teachers and I are involved in what we call a
Lab School for the Visual Arts wherein we will teach local 3rd - 5th grade
students in a workshop / art class entitled "Whistles and Rattles."
The plan is to show them simple musical instruments that have been
made by many cultures around the world. The rattle (I think also sometimes
called ideophones -- did I just make that up?) has been made from
dried gourds, clay, rat skin, bones, leather, wood (have I left
something out?). Some rattle on the inside. Some rattle on the
outside (I've seen this sort from Africa and Hawaii).
We'll discuss why people made or make these instruments. Other
questions might include: Why are they decorated sometimes? Why do
certain groups of people use certain images repeatedly on their
musical instruments? How did people from long ago even think of how
to make them?
Then we'll make some whistles and rattles. Should the students avoid
placing images from other cultures on their instrument? Should the
students avoid making whistle and rattles which look too similar to
examples we have shown them? If we whistle and rattle them, should
we avoid certain rythyms? Should Paul Simon not have made Graceland,
but instead just try to tell everyone, " Hey, I've listened to some
really cool music from Africa, and I think you should listen to it."
This is a fascinating discussion to me, and I am trying to find where
the middle is -- where the balance is between being so excited about
images and using them in work and being respectful to others and not
abusing their images.
Can of is this question answered socially? Legally? Ethically?
Tell me all. I want to know all. I want to know what you think.
Like Mary, thank you for reading all the way to the end of this. If
you didn't read all the way to the end of this then I don't like you
really and truly yours,
Assistant Professor, Art Education
University of Central Arkansas
Department of Art
Conway, AR 72035